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GAME REVIEW

Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis

The Calm Before the Storm

By Chad Serrant

Staff Writer

Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis

Published by Atlus

For the Nintendo Game Boy Advance

$39.99

As the remaining members of game developer Quest have joined Squaresoft, I am left wondering about the future. Quest has developed the excellent Ogre Battle and Tactics Ogre series, yet only Squaresoft’s clone, Final Fantasy Tactics, receives any recognition. If Quest can keep up the same gameplay found in Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis, they should do just fine. Hopefully Squaresoft can give them some money to update the gameplay, though.

The game revolves around turn-based tactical combat. Use a squad of eight characters and battle other teams consisting of bandits, beasts, nobility, and otherworldly creatures. This game requires more than just high-level characters in order to win. Unlike other role-playing games, positioning plays a very important role in the game.

Different character classes have different movement rates. Heavy armor means that the knights can’t travel very far. Ninjas can travel very far and are good at jumping up and falling down cliffs. Wizards are pretty clumsy, cannot travel far and have trouble jumping. So if the ninjas charge ahead and the knights jump up the steep cliff, the wizards are left behind and are sitting ducks.

Attacking is also important. Because attacked people automatically counterattack, it is wise to attack from behind. Ranged spells can hit multiple opponents, but the caster must make sure none of his allies are hit in the blast. Everyone generates ten magic points during their turn, so those with powerful spells can cast them indefinitely during a match, provided they wait long enough.

Every human starts off as a lowly soldier and changes classes when his stats are high enough. Knights, Valkyries and dragoons are the brute force types. Ninjas and swordmasters are the fast fighters. Archers are good at sniping far-away foes. Wizards and sirens depend on magic to blast their opponents, while clerics use their magic to heal. Beast masters and dragon tamers find it easier to recruit beasts and dragons. Finally, the warlock and witch classes use support magic to aid their allies and confuse their enemies. The large choice of classes gives players several possibilities for their army.

There are also several races. Fairies are useful in this game, as they cure status ailments and allow characters to move twice per round. Hawkmen and angel knights can fly, giving them a great tactical advantage. Mermaids are great while submerged in water. There are also beasts and dragons that can grow stronger and even transform. The problem with the other races is that they can’t gain class levels like humans can.

The story features Alphonse Loeher, a knight sent to the island of Ovis to help the southern part of the island fight the northern army. Any Ogre Battle fan knows that the conflict is much greater than that; the story has political and religious conflict, and the player’s decisions affect the story (much more than Golden Sun’s decisions affected the story, mind you). The story is shorter than Ogre Battle 64’s massive encyclopedia of a story.

Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis adds an emblem system. Your characters get emblems for performing certain tasks. Some are easy to get, like Knight’s Certificate, while other emblems like Relix’s Emblem (when one human has been in all 14 classes) are pretty tough to get. Overall you won’t notice them. Perhaps you’ll use them for the two-player trade option, as there are some emblems you can only get by fighting another human opponent.

The graphics for this game seem a bit dated. Few colors are used, and the units still use a walking animation in-between rounds. There are no shadows or lighting, and most area affect spells are animated to hit one spot at a time. There are no options to skip the summon animations, so I had hoped they would be prettier. The sounds are above average, but the Game Boy Advance has much better music capabilities.

This game will last at least 30 hours, and that’s if you rush to see the story. You’ll have to play again to see the other endings. And again for the other unique characters you couldn’t find before. And again to train your army so you can beat your friend’s army. So maybe it will take a bit more than 30 hours. Let’s hope the next Ogre game has more options, more colorful graphics and less chocobos.